Top Technology Trends in Logistics and Transportation

Surveys have documented an 'IT gap' in logistics and transportation - a gap between the importance shippers attach to a Logistics Service Provider’s (LSPs) IT competence and how competent the shipper finds the 3PLs it works with.  One key aspect of that gap is the desire among shippers to have access to real-time tracking data.  There has been an explosion of new sensor data available to be used to create digital supply chains.  ARC covers top technology trends in the Logistics and Transportation industries on an ongoing basis. Please visit Technology Evaluation and Selection Guides page for recent ARC research reports.

Leading LSPs are using, or learning to use, SNEW data – social media, news, event, and weather data – and real-time data to improve supply chain capabilities in the areas of risk management, supply chain planning, and supply chain asset management.  The supply chain has historically relied heavily on EDI messaging, which is far from a real-time messaging mechanism.  Now there are several young software companies which provide much more timely supply chain data, across a much larger spectrum of issues, than EDI covers.  These solutions are being embedded into next generation supply chain control towers run by LSPs. 

Additionally, the core applications that LSPs use to provide differentiated service for their customers – warehouse and transportation management systems, and increasingly supply chain planning and omni-channel execution – continue to be enhanced.  Leading supply chain software companies are enhancing these solutions with IoT platform capabilities, artificial intelligence and machine learning, and predictive analytics.

Further, cloud deployments are becoming increasingly prevalent.  This offers advantages to both LSPs and their customers.  Cloud-based TMS, for example, has lowered the barriers of entry to being able to provide managed transportation services.  But small LSPs have not yet achieved economies of scale in terms of being able to leverage visibility to large numbers of transportation moves and contracts to provide better service for their shipper customers.  However, being able to leverage network wide transportation data is not easy to achieve.  Even very large LSPs with billions in freight under management, struggle to fully utilize this data.

And of course, Amazon and eCommerce are changing the nature of warehousing and last mile delivery.  In the warehouse, new forms of robotics are emerging.  While Uber-style applications and brokers have gotten more publicity than traction, last mile freight is likely to emerge as the area where these technologies are best adapted to add value.

Rail carriers have special technological issues.  ARC has begun coverage of rail signaling systems and railway condition monitoring systems.

LSP professionals need to stay informed of what is happening in the industry, and how emerging trends in technology, outsourcing, regulations, and business practices can impact their jobs and companies.  There is plenty of information out there; the challenge is filtering through all the noise to zero in on what is truly important and why.


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"I enjoyed the Beyond the Perfect Order Metric Seminar at the ARC Forum.  The approach to the seminar allowed for some interesting dialogue and contacts to grow over the multi day event.  The topics were timely to efforts underway at Continental Mills."

ContinentalMills-sm.jpgMike Fortner
Customer Logistics Manager
Continental Mills

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Logistics and Transportation Relevant Technologies

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